I was recently seeing a patient in my office and a family member was in during the visit and was asking some very interesting questions. Since she was knowledgeable, I asked if she was in the medical field somewhere. She said that she was a nurse. I asked her what type of nurse she was and she told me that she was a CMA (certified medical assistant). "Ah, I said, you aren't actually a nurse," and I told her to be very careful about giving the impression that she was one without an actual degree as such. I explained, in a nice way, that it is illegal to portray yourself as a nurse when you are not and that you can get into trouble. " As clearly stated on emedicalassistants.com" , a medical assistant calling herself a nurse is not just confusing patients but also committing a crime." I told her it was the same as if I told people that I was a medical doctor rather than a Nurse Practitioner and that I could lose my license.
In fact, it's a pretty hot topic on some nursing forums. Below is a response to the same question by an LPN.
"It's very simple, really. If you are not a licensed nurse--you are not a nurse. The title carries with it a certain level of responsibility and education (not time, but content). A CMA/MA should identify themselves appropriately, and then docs and patients will catch on. I drew blood and ran lab tests but never called myself the lab technician. Same with taking xrays. I am a nurse because I went to school to be a nurse and took my boards and passed, earning my title of RN or Nurse. I have been taught the nursing process as well as disease process. I can function in a doctor's office or a hospital. The same cannot be said for a CMA/MA. CMAs/MAs should be proud of what they do and also be protecting their title as they earned it. Badges should include title so the public is aware of who is caring for them."
Below is the legal definition for this issue:
Title "Nurse" Protection
Restricting use of the title "nurse" to only those individuals who have fulfilled the requirements for licensure as outlined in each state's nurse practice act is a protection for the public against unethical, unscrupulous, and incompetent practitioners. Nurse practice acts describe entry level qualifications such as education, practice standards and code of conduct for continued privilege to practice nursing. Limiting use of the title "nurse" to only those who have satisfied the licensure requirements ensures the protection the public deserves.
At least 37 states are known to have language in their Nurse Practice Act; either explicit in restricting use of the title "nurse" to only those who are licensed or implicit language restricting use of any words implying the individual is a licensed nurse.....
AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, KS, KY, MD, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY